Information & Facts
The climate of Zurich is continental, and temperatures are
modified by winds off the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are cold, while
summers tend to be hot and sunny. In January, temperatures can
range between 14°F (-10°C) and 41°F (5°C) and in July, temperatures
can range between 59°F (15°C) and 86°F (30°C). The wettest time of
year is from June to August.
Zurich boasts a plethora of eateries catering to just about
every nationality under the sun, including, of course, restaurants
with strong French, German and Italian influences. Try the
delicious traditional Christmas snack,
Tirggel, which are hard, thin and very sweet biscuits made
from flour and honey - popular in other countries too and bound to
well up oodles of nostalgia in anyone who has ever tasted one.
Zürcher Geschnetzeltes,a veal stew made with mushrooms,
white wine and cream is a must while in Zurich, and visitors will
notice potato Rösti is a popular local dish. Other famous exports
not to be missed are, of course, the decadent and delicious Swiss
chocolates as well as Swiss cheeses like Emmental, Gruyère,
Vacherin, and Appenzeller. Other famous Swiss culinary inventions
include fondue and muesli.
The left bank and right bank areas are where all the best
restaurants can be found and it is customary to make reservations
in advance. For special occasions, the restaurants at the top of
the Uetliberg have fantastic views. A service charge of 15% is
usually included in restaurant bills and further tipping is
unnecessary but leftover change is always appreciated.
Zurich is easy to navigate, and a modern, user-friendly network
of trams and buses covers the city daily from 5.30am to midnight.
Transport works on a zone system, and tickets are valid for an
hour. Tickets are transferable but must be bought before boarding
and validated immediately; they are also valid on some boats and
local city trains. The most useful travel pass is the
Tageskarte(one day ticket) that allows travel on all buses
and trams for 24 hours. Night buses depart from Bellevue hourly
from 1am to 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Travelling by taxi is
expensive even by Swiss standards, but they are safe and convenient
and can be hailed on the street, found at taxi ranks or ordered by
phone. Getting around by car is not recommended due to congestion
and expensive or scarce parking. From May to October, bicycles can
be hired free from various stations, though a deposit of one's ID
and a small fee is required.
The three official languages are Swiss German, French and
Italian. A few people speak Romansch, but this is confined to the
southeastern corner of the country. Most people know at least three
languages, including English.
The official currency is the Swiss franc (CHF) divided into 100
rappen (German) or centimes (French). Although not part of the EU
many prices are nonetheless indicated in Euros and some merchants
may accept Euros. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely
accepted and ATMs are widespread; many are equipped with the Cirrus
or Maestro system. Banks offer the best exchange rates for
travellers cheques and foreign currency, but it is also possible to
exchange money at major hotels, main train stations and airports.
Banks are open Monday to Friday.
Not the conservative city it used to be, the nightlife and
entertainment scene in Zurich has come into its own, but don't
expect it to be rip-roaring wild either. With most clubs closing
relatively early, it's best to get a head start with a few early
evening cocktails at your watering hole of choice. A good place to
start is at one of the open-air bars for a relaxing drink before
heading out to the trendy Zuri-West area where some of the city's
hottest underground bars and nightclubs can be found. The Old Town
is also worth checking out where Paradeplatz features a range of
upmarket lounge and hotel bars. The former red-light district of
Langstrasse is the place to go for an edgier night where biker bars
can be found alongside strip clubs and just about anything goes.
Being more culturally oriented, concerts, theatre, ballet and opera
dominate the scene here. It's worth picking up a copy of
Zurich Newsor the
ZüriTipp,the weekly supplement to the
Tages Anzeigernewspaper to see what's on when you're in the
Shopping in Zurich is a fantastic holiday experience. While
traditional Swiss products may be watches, cuckoo-clocks and
chocolate, there are also many upmarket boutiques and speciality
stores (such as the one dedicated entirely to button sales). This
city is charmingly devoid of shopping malls.
The main shopping street is Bahnhofstrasse, home to department
stores Globus and Jelmoli, and jewellery shops like Bucherer and
Beyer, as well as fashion shops such as H&M. Fine Swiss
chocolates (including Frey and Lindt), Swiss Army knives,
embroidery, linen, Swiss watches, and handmade clocks are available
from shops like Schweizer Heimatwerk and Confiserie Sprüngli. At
Zurich Hauptbahnhof, Shopville is a subway shopping centre offering
Swiss souvenirs and fine wines. Also close by, there's a flea
market at Helvetiaplatz on Saturday mornings.
The Niederdorf district has trendy boutiques, 'modern' antiques
and a few bookshops. Nearby, Schipfe is a street where artisans and
craftsman offer quality and custom-made products. Elegant
boutiques, department stores and speciality shops are clustered in
the Old Town. International visitors may reclaim VAT but some
conditions do apply.
Brimming with attractions and sightseeing opportunities to suit
every kind of traveller, Zurich has wonderful monuments, museums
and churches to explore. Wander through the cobblestone streets of
Niederhof and enjoy a light meal or cup of coffee while being
entertained by the street performers and buskers. Culture vultures
will love the Swiss National Museum, the Fine Arts Museum and the
Museum of Design Zurich and children of all ages will love the
Zurich Zoo, where endangered species such as snow leopards and red
pandas can be seen. Visitors keen on doing a lot of sightseeing in
Zurich should purchase the Zurich Tourist Card, which includes
access to transport services of Zurich Public Transport and offers
free admission to over 40 museums, reduced admission to the zoo, a
complimentary welcome drink in over 20 restaurants and a number of
other benefits. The card can be bought for 20CHF for 24 hours or
40CHF for 72 hours.
Local time in Switzerland is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between March and